Features July 17, 2012
Primer: The Evolution of Funk Carioca

In this new web-series, we check in on Brazil and what it is happening right now in this vibrantly musical country. We've hooked up with a few Brazilian bloggers to give us the scoop on what is going and send us posts on what's hot in their city. This week we get a primer on the increasingly popular funk carioca from Rio de Janeiro resident Bruna Senos.

From ‘Melôs’ to ‘Pancadão’: with fancier and more complex mixes, funk carioca stands as a living rhythm under constant change.

From the first recorded song, "Melô da Mulher Feia" to the recent "Rainha do Cabaré", funk carioca has existed for over twenty years, originating from Rio de Janeiro and made popular specifically in low income areas of the city.

If comparing ages with other Brazilian rhythms, like samba or bossa nova - born respectively in the 19th century and the 50's, 20 years is no match to these massively popular genres. But the ever-changing power of funk carioca in its brief life showcases what makes it so special. Since 1989, funk carioca has already lived through three big waves of mainstream attention (1994/1995, 2001 and 2005/2006) and as a result seen its subgenres expand on their own to include melôs, rap, funk melody, charme and the proibidão, among others.

One of the most recent and innovative branches, that has grown to be one of the most popular of the baile funks, doesn't even have a specific name, but carries idiosyncratic traits: the new montagens (mixes) have faster tempos, with lyrics that don't attempt to carry a meaning, with heavy use of repetition (at times it's just one sentence or interjection) and frantic editing, always with the help of a MPC. Currently, the rise of this next revolution of funk carioca is taking place online. DJs are sharing their montagens on Youtube and creating new material online.


(Phabyo DJ performs at Castelo das Pedras, one of the most tradicional bailes of Rio de

In this "new funk," the role of the MCs is being set aside, and in return, DJs have conquered a special status. A good beat created by a DJ can be sung with several different lyrics, and probably they will all have the same success on the floor, "proibidona" or not.

In a way, recent funk carioca is as innovative as it has never been before, even if compared to its "world invasion," led by Diplo and singer MIA in 2005, when the genre was presented to the western world on a mainstream level. Back then it sounded like a hybrid of so many influences and music references that it didn't affect the funk carioca communities directly. In a way, it lacked some truth or "cred."

But not this time. Now that these three big waves of mainstream attention have passed (we are now living tecnobrega and sertanejo universitário waves now), funk carioca has continued to stand as a consolidated genre, with its loyal followers making up much of its fanbase. This has allowed the style the freedom to experiment. Funk carioca isn't here to make hits anymore, but instead seems poised to push the limits of its style into electronic music. Maybe only in the last few years the boldness seen in increasingly erotic lyrics and criminal apologist is finding its way into the melodies. This is possibly pulling funk carioca more than ever into the electronic music universe. Funk carioca has finally earned its "pancadão" nickname.

In chronological order, the vídeos demonstrate a little of this growing evolution of funk carioca, from the early days to the montagem revolution:

Feira de Acari, MC Batata (1990)

Me Leva, Latino (1994)

Rap da Felicidade, Cidinho e Doca (1995)

Conquista, Claudinho e Buchecha (1996)

Cerol na Mão, Bonde do Tigrão (2001)

Eguinha Pocotó, Mc Serginho (2003)

Boladona, Mc Tati Qubra-Barraco (2004)

Adultério, Mr. Catra (2006)

Créu, Mc Créu (2007)

Sou Foda, Avassaladores (2009)

Casa das Prima, Mc Luan (2011)

Parado Na Esquina, DJ Metralha (2011)

Treinamento do Bumbum, Peixe DJ (2012)

Bruna Senos is a Brazilian journalist from Rio de Janeiro currently working at Multishow's website. She still believes in music, Santa Claus and AOL installation CDs.

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